Can’t interfere in animal sacrifice tradition: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with religious practices and said the judiciary could not stop centuries-old traditions of sacrificing animals by different communities. A PIL cited provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to point out that the law provides for minimal pain and trauma to animals killed for food.

“The law cannot be given a go by when it comes to animal sacrifices during religious occasions. Most of these animal sacrifices take place in open areas near religious places watched even by children. The animals are killed by untrained persons causing much pain to them. Moreover, other animals also watch it causing trauma to them,” senior advocate Raju Ramachandran said. The petitioner demanded employing trained butchers for animal sacrifice during religious occasions.

“Animal sacrifice is not confined to any single religion. This petition has nothing to do with meat ban. The PCA Act provides for a procedure of killing of animals so as to cause them least pain and trauma. Why can’t it be followed during religious occasions?” Ramachandran asked.

A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy said, “The Act itself carves out exception for animal sacrifices carried out for religious purposes. There are many communities in villages which feel that animal sacrifice ritual brings them rain. If they do not do it, then there might be no rain.

“That is why the legislature while framing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has provided for the exception. This court has to balance between the law and religious practices. This is a sensitive matter better dealt by the representatives of the people in the appropriate forums. We cannot shut our eyes to centuries-old traditions. We cannot start examining the relevance of animal sacrifice in each religion if a PIL is filed under Article 32.”

Attempting to find a way out, Ramachandran said the SC had entertained a petition challenging a Himachal Pradesh High Court judgment on October 3 last year banning animal sacrifice for religious purposes. “Please issue notice on this petition and let this be heard along with the pending appeal,” he pleaded. But the SC refused to accede to his request.

However, it allowed the petitioner to withdraw the PIL and move an application seeking to be a party in the pending appeal. A rough private estimate put the number of animals sacrificed every year during religious occasions at nearly 5 lakh.

SOURCE: TIMES OF INDIA

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